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(Enter the two friends, gathering flowers.)

Anusuya. Priyamvada, dear Shakuntala has been properly married by the voluntary ceremony and she has a husband worthy of her. And yet I am not quite satisfied.

Priyamvada. Why not?

Anusuya. The sacrifice is over and the good king was dismissed to-day by the hermits. He has gone back to the city and there he is surrounded by hundreds of court ladies. I wonder whether he will remember poor Shakuntala or not.

Priyamvada. You need not be anxious about that. Such handsome men are sure to be good. But there is something else to think about. I don't know what Father will have to say when he comes back from his pilgrimage and hears about it.

Anusuya. I believe that he will be pleased.

Priyamvada. Why?

Anusuya. Why not? You know he wanted to give his daughter to a lover worthy of her. If fate brings this about of itself, why shouldn't Father be happy?

Priyamvada. I suppose you are right. (She looks at her flower-basket.) My dear, we have gathered flowers enough for the sacrifice.

Anusuya. But we must make an offering to the gods that watch over Shakuntala's marriage. We had better gather more.

Priyamvada. Very well. (They do so.)

A voice behind the scenes. Who will bid me welcome?

Anusuya (listening). My dear, it sounds like a guest announcing himself.

Priyamvada. Well, Shakuntala is near the cottage.

(Reflecting.) Ah, but to-day her heart is far away. Come,

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we must do with the flowers we have. (They start to walk away.)

The voice. Do you dare despise a guest like me?

Because your heart, by loving fancies blinded,
  Has scorned a guest in pious life grown old,
Your lover shall forget you though reminded,
  Or think of you as of a story told.

(The two girls listen and show dejection.)

Priyamvada. Oh, dear! The very thing has happened. The dear, absent-minded girl has offended some worthy man.

Anusuya (looking ahead). My dear, this is no ordinary somebody. It is the great sage Durvasas, the irascible. See how he strides away!

Priyamvada. Nothing burns like fire. Run, fall at his feet, bring him back, while I am getting water to wash his feet.

Anusuya. I will. (Exit.)

Priyamvada (stumbling). There! I stumbled in my excitement, and the flower-basket fell out of my hand. (She collects the scattered flowers. ANUSUYA returns.)

Anusuya. My dear, he is anger incarnate. Who could appease him? But I softened him a little.

Priyamvada. Even that is a good deal for him. Tell me about it.

Anusuya. When he would not turn back, I fell at his feet and prayed to him. "Holy sir," I said, "remember her former devotion and pardon this offence. Your daughter did not recognise your great and holy power to-day."

Priyamvada. And then------

Anusuya. Then he said: "My words must be fulfilled. But the curse shall be lifted when her lover sees a gem which he has given her for a token." And so he vanished.

Priyamvada. We can breathe again. When the good king went away, he put a ring, engraved with his own name, on Shakuntala's finger to remember him by. That will save her.

Anusuya. Come, we must finish the sacrifice for her. (They walk about.)

Priyamvada (gazing). Just look, Anusuya! There is the dear girl, with her cheek resting on her left hand. She looks

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like a painted picture. She is thinking about him. How could she notice a guest when she has forgotten herself?

Anusuya. Priyamvada, we two must keep this thing to ourselves. We must be careful of the dear girl. You know how delicate she is.

Priyamvada. Would any one sprinkle a jasmine-vine with scalding water? (Exeunt ambo.)

SCENE II.--Early Morning.

(Enter a pupil of KANVA, just risen from sleep.)

Pupil. Father Kanva has returned from his pilgrimage, and has bidden me find out what time it is. I will go into the open air and see how much of the night remains. (He walks and looks about.) See! The dawn is breaking. For already

The moon behind the western mount is sinking;
  The eastern sun is heralded by dawn;
From heaven's twin lights, their fall and glory linking,
  Brave lessons of submission may be drawn.

[paragraph continues] And again:

Night-blooming lilies, when the moon is hidden,
  Have naught but memories of beauty left.
Hard, hard to bear! Her lot whom heaven has bidden
  To live alone, of love and lover reft.

[paragraph continues] And again:

On jujube-trees the blushing dewdrops falter;
  The peacock wakes and leaves the cottage thatch;
A deer is rising near the hoof-marked altar,
  And stretching, stands, the day's new life to catch.

[paragraph continues] And yet again:

The moon that topped the loftiest mountain ranges,
  That slew the darkness in the midmost sky,
Is fallen from heaven, and all her glory changes:
  So high to rise, so low at last to lie!

Anusuya (entering hurriedly. To herself). That is just what happens to the innocent. Shakuntala has been treated shamefully by the king.

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Pupil. I will tell Father Kanva that the hour of morning sacrifice is come. (Exit.)

Anusuya. The dawn is breaking. I am awake bright and early. But what shall I do now that I am awake? My hands refuse to attend to the ordinary morning tasks. Well, let love take its course. For the dear, pure-minded girl trusted him--the traitor! Perhaps it is not the good king's fault. It must be the curse of Durvasas. Otherwise, how could the good king say such beautiful things, and then let all this time pass without even sending a message? (She reflects.) Yes, we must send him the ring he left as a token. But whom shall we ask to take it? The hermits are unsympathetic because they have never suffered. It seemed as if her friends were to blame and so, try as we might, we could not tell Father Kanva that Shakuntala was married to Dushyanta and was expecting a baby. Oh, what shall we do? (Enter PRIYAMVADA.)

Priyamvada. Hurry, Anusuya, hurry! We are getting Shakuntala ready for her journey.

Anusuya (astonished). What do you mean, my dear?

Priyamvada. Listen. I just went to Shakuntala, to ask if she had slept well.

Anusuya. And then------

Priyamvada. I found her hiding her face for shame, and Father Kanva was embracing her and encouraging her. "My child," he said, "I bring you joy. The offering fell straight in the sacred fire, and auspicious smoke rose toward the sacrificer. My pains for you have proved like instruction given to a good student; they have brought me no regret. This very day I shall give you an escort of hermits and send you to your husband."

Anusuya. But, my dear, who told Father Kanva about it?

Priyamvada. A voice from heaven that recited a verse when he had entered the fire-sanctuary.

Anusuya (astonished). What did it say?

Priyamvada. Listen. (Speaking in good Sanskrit.)

Know, Brahman, that your child,
  Like the fire-pregnant tree,
Bears kingly seed that shall be born
  For earth's prosperity.

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Anusuya (hugging PRIYAMVADA). I am so glad, dear. But my joy is half sorrow when I think that Shakuntala is going to be taken away this very day.

Priyamvada. We must hide our sorrow as best we can. The poor girl must be made happy to-day.

Anusuya. Well, here is a cocoa-nut casket, hanging on a branch of the mango-tree. I put flower-pollen in it for this very purpose. It keeps fresh, you know. Now you wrap it in a lotus-leaf, and I will get yellow pigment and earth from a sacred spot and blades of panic grass for the happy ceremony. (PRIYAMVADA does so. Exit ANUSUYA.)

A voice behind the scenes. Gautami, bid the worthy Sharngarava and Sharadvata make ready to escort my daughter Shakuntala.

Priyamvada (listening). Hurry, Anusuya, hurry! They are calling the hermits who are going to Hastinapura. (Enter ANUSUYA, with materials for the ceremony.)

Anusuya. Come, dear, let us go. (They walk about.)

Priyamvada (looking ahead). There is Shakuntala. She took the ceremonial bath at sunrise, and now the hermit-women are giving her rice-cakes and wishing her happiness. Let's go to her. (They do so. Enter SHAKUNTALA with attendants as described, and GAUTAMI.)

Shakuntala. Holy women, I salute you.

Gautami. My child, may you receive the happy title "queen," showing that your husband honours you.

Hermit-women. My dear, may you become the mother of a hero. (Exeunt all but GAUTAMI.)

The two friends (approaching). Did you have a good bath, dear?

Shakuntala. Good morning, girls. Sit here.

The two friends (seating themselves). Now stand straight, while we go through the happy ceremony.

Shakuntala. It has happened often enough, but I ought to be very grateful to-day. Shall I ever be adorned by my friends again? (She weeps.)

The two friends. You ought not to weep, dear, at this happy time. (They wipe the tears away and adorn her.)

Priyamvada. You are so beautiful, you ought to have the finest gems. It seems like .an insult to give you these hermitage things. (Enter HARITA, a hermit-youth, with ornaments.)

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Harita. Here are ornaments for our lady. (The women look at them in astonishment.)

Gautami. Harita, my son, whence come these things?

Harita. From the holy power of Father Kanva.

Gautami. A creation of his mind?

Harita. Not quite. Listen. Father Kanva sent us to gather blossoms from the trees for Shakuntala, and then

One tree bore fruit, a silken marriage dress
That shamed the moon in its white loveliness;
Another gave us lac-dye for the feet;
From others, fairy hands extended, sweet
Like flowering twigs, as far as to the wrist,
And gave us gems, to adorn her as we list.

Priyamvada (looking at SHAKUNTALA). A bee may be born in a hole in a tree, but she likes the honey of the lotus.

Gautami. This gracious favour is a token of the queenly happiness which you are to enjoy in your husband's palace. (SHAKUNTALA shows embarrassment.)

Harita. Father Kanva has gone to the bank of the Malini, to perform his ablutions. I will tell him of the favour shown us by the trees. (Exit.)

Anusuya. My dear, we poor girls never saw such ornaments. How shall we adorn you? (She stops to think, and to look at the ornaments.) But we have seen pictures. Perhaps we can arrange them right.

Shakuntala. I know how clever you are. (The two friends adorn her. Enter KANVA, returning after his ablutions.)


Shakuntala must go to-day;
  I miss her now at heart;
I dare not speak a loving word
  Or choking tears will start.

My eyes are dim with anxious thought;
  Love strikes me to the life:
And yet I strove for pious peace--
  I have no child, no wife.

What must a father feel, when come
The pangs of parting from his child at home?

(He walks about.)

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The two friends. There, Shakuntala, we have arranged your ornaments. Now put on this beautiful silk dress. (SHAKUNTALA rises and does so.)

Gautami. My child, here is your father. The eyes with which he seems to embrace you are overflowing with tears of joy. You must greet him properly. (SHAKUNTALA makes a shamefaced reverence.)

Kanva. My child,

Like Sharmishtha, Yayati's wife,
  Win favour measured by your worth;
And may you bear a kingly son
  Like Puru, who shall rule the earth.

Gautami. My child, this is not a prayer, but a benediction.

Kanva. My daughter, walk from left to right about the fires in which the offering has just been thrown. (All walk about.)

The holy fires around the altar kindle,
  And at their margins sacred grass is piled;
Beneath their sacrificial odours dwindle
  Misfortunes. May the fires protect you, child!

(SHAKUNTALA walks about them from left to right.)

Kanva. Now you may start, my daughter. (He glances about.) Where are Sharngarava and Sharadvata? (Enter the two pupils.)

The two pupils. We are here, Father.

Kanva. Sharngarava, my son, lead the way for your sister.

Sharngarava. Follow me. (They all walk about.)

Kanva. O trees of the pious grove, in which the fairies dwell,

She would not drink till she had wet
Your roots, a sister's duty,
Nor pluck your flowers; she loves you yet
Far more than selfish beauty.

’Twas festival in her pure life
When budding blossoms showed;
And now she leaves you as a wife--
Oh, speed her on her road!

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Sharngarava (listening to the song of koïl-birds). Father,

The trees are answering your prayer
  In cooing cuckoo-song,
Bidding Shakuntala farewell,
  Their sister for so long.

Invisible beings.

May lily-dotted lakes delight your eye;
  May shade-trees bid the heat of noonday cease;
May soft winds blow the lotus-pollen nigh;
  May all your path be pleasantness and peace.

(All listen in astonishment.)

Gautami. My child, the fairies of the pious grove bid you farewell. For they love the household. Pay reverence to the holy ones.

Shakuntala (does so. Aside to PRIYAMVADA). Priyamvada, I long to see my husband, and yet my feet will hardly move. It is hard, hard to leave the hermitage.

Priyamvada. You are not the only one to feel sad at this farewell. See how the whole grove feels at parting from you.

The grass drops from the feeding doe;
  The peahen stops her dance;
Pale, trembling leaves are falling slow,
  The tears of clinging plants.

Shakuntala (recalling something). Father, I must say good-bye to the spring-creeper, my sister among the vines.

Kanva. I know your love for her. See! Here she is at your right hand.

Shakuntala (approaches the vine and embraces it). Vine sister, embrace me too with your arms, these branches. I shall be far away from you after to-day. Father, you must care for her as you did for me.


My child, you found the lover who
  Had long been sought by me;
No longer need I watch for you;
I'll give the vine a lover true,
  This handsome mango-tree.

[paragraph continues] And now start on your journey.

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Shakuntala (going to the two friends). Dear girls, I leave her in your care too.

The two friends. But who will care for poor us? (They shed tears.)

Kanva. Anusuya! Priyamvada! Do not weep. It is you who should cheer Shakuntala. (All walk about.)

Shakuntala. Father, there is the pregnant doe, wandering about near the cottage. When she becomes a happy mother, you must send some one to bring me the good news. Do not forget.

Kanva. I shall not forget, my child.

Shakuntala (stumbling). Oh, oh! Who is it that keeps pulling at my dress, as if to hinder me? (She turns round to see.)


It is the fawn whose lip, when torn
  By kusha-grass, you soothed with oil;
The fawn who gladly nibbled corn
  Held in your hand; with loving toil
You have adopted him, and he
Would never leave you willingly.

Shakuntala. My dear, why should you follow me when I am going away from home? Your mother died when you were born and I brought you up. Now I am leaving you, and Father Kanva will take care of you. Go back, dear! Go back! (She walks away, weeping.)

Kanva. Do not weep, my child. Be brave. Look at the path before you.

Be brave, and check the rising tears
  That dim your lovely eyes;
Your feet are stumbling on the path
  That so uneven lies.

Sharngarava. Holy Father, the Scripture declares that one should accompany a departing loved one only to the first water. Pray give us your commands on the bank of this pond, and then return.

Kanva. Then let us rest in the shade of this fig-tree. (All do so.) What commands would it be fitting for me to lay on King Dushyanta? (He reflects.)

Anusuya. My dear, there is not a living thing in the whole

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hermitage that is not grieving to-day at saying good-bye to you. Look!

The sheldrake does not heed his mate
  Who calls behind the lotus-leaf;
He drops the lily from his bill
  And turns on you a glance of grief.

Kanva. Son Sharngarava, when you present Shakuntala to the king, give him this message from me.

Remembering my religious worth,
Your own high race, the love poured forth
By her, forgetful of her friends,
Pay her what honour custom lends
To all your wives. And what fate gives
Beyond, will please her relatives.

Sharngarava. I will not forget your message, Father.

Kanva (turning to SHAKUNTALA). My child, I must now give you my counsel. Though I live in the forest, I have some knowledge of the world.

Sharngarava. True wisdom, Father, gives insight into everything.

Kanva. My child, when you have entered your husband's home,

Obey your elders; and be very kind
To rivals; never be perversely blind
And angry with your husband, even though he
Should prove less faithful than a man might be;
Be as courteous to servants as you may,
Not puffed with pride in this your happy day:
Thus does a maiden grow into a wife;
But self-willed women are the curse of life.

[paragraph continues] But what does Gautami say?

Gautami. This is advice sufficient for a bride. (To SHAKUNTALA.) You will not forget, my child.

Kanva. Come, my daughter, embrace me and your friends.

Shakuntala. Oh, Father! Must my friends turn back too?

Kanva. My daughter, they too must some day be given in marriage. Therefore they may not go to court. Gautami will go with you.

Shakuntala (throwing her arms about her father). I am torn

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from my father's breast like a vine stripped from a sandal-tree on the Malabar hills. How can I live in another soil? (She weeps.)

Kanva. My daughter, why distress yourself so?

A noble husband's honourable wife,
You are to spend a busy, useful life
In the world's eye; and soon, as eastern skies
Bring forth the sun, from you there shall arise
A child, a blessing and a comfort strong--
You will not miss me, dearest daughter, long.

Shakuntala (falling at his feet). Farewell, Father.

Kanva. My daughter, may all that come to you which I desire for you.

Shakuntala (going to her two friends). Come, girls! Embrace me, both of you together.

The two friends (do so). Dear, if the good king should perhaps be slow to recognise you, show him the ring with his own name engraved on it.

Shakuntala. Your doubts make my heart beat faster.

The two friends. Do not be afraid, dear. Love is timid.

Sharngarava (looking about). Father, the sun is in mid-heaven. She must hasten.

Shakuntala (embracing KANVA once more). Father, when shall I see the pious grove again?

Kanva. My daughter,

When you have shared for many years
The king's thoughts with the earth,
When to a son who knows no fears
You shall have given birth,

When, trusted to the son you love,
Your royal labours cease,
Come with your husband to the grove
And end your days in peace.

Gautami. My child, the hour of your departure is slipping by. Bid your father turn back. No, she would never do that. Pray turn back, sir.

Kanva. Child, you interrupt my duties in the pious grove.

Shakuntala. Yes, Father. You will be busy in the grove. You will not miss me. But oh! I miss you.

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Kanva. How can you think me so indifferent? (He sighs.)

My lonely sorrow will not go,
  For seeds you scattered here
Before the cottage door, will grow;
  And I shall see them, dear.

[paragraph continues] Go. And peace go with you. (Exit SHAKUNTALA, With GAUTAMI, SHARNGARAVA, and SHARADVATA.)

The two friends (gazing long after her. Mournfully). Oh, oh! Shakuntala is lost among the trees.

Kanva. Anusuya! Priyamvada! Your companion is gone. Choke down your grief and follow me. (They start to go back.)

The two friends. Father, the grove seems empty without Shakuntala.

Kanva. So love interprets. (He walks about, sunk in thought.) Ah! I have sent Shakuntala away, and now I am myself again. For

A girl is held in trust, another's treasure;
  To arms of love my child to-day is given;
And now I feel a calm and sacred pleasure;
  I have restored the pledge that came from heaven.

(Exeunt omnes.)


Next: Act V. Shakuntala's Rejection